In this paper, I examine the case of Angosturas, a large-scale gold mining project by the Canadian-based company GreyStar in the sensitive high wetland páramo of Santurbán in the northeast of the Colombian Andes. Angosturas is the closest large-scale gold mining project to the phase of extraction in the country, and constitutes a referent for other ongoing cases. In 2011, the Ministry of the Environment, Housing, and Territorial Development (hereafter: Ministry of the Environment) denied the environmental license to the company to start extraction operations. Despite this government’s recent ruling, GreyStar (which renamed itself ‘Eco Oro’ after the 2011 decision) and other mining companies have continued their quest to gain permission to begin extraction in the area. I explore why these continued attempts to change government policy regarding extraction licensing is possible within the existing juridical framework. In particular, I ask how Sustainable Development allows for the classification of large-scale mining as a public utility activity. This paper is a criticism of Sustainable Development and the limitations it places on hearing certain kinds of languages and discourses that resist the commodification of nature. The case study allows me to address a gap in the existing literature, and outline the distinctive situation of non-legally recognized ethnic minorities (e.g. peasant farmers, small-scale miners, and the urban population).